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Audio Quality Issues

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DJDela
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Audio Quality Issues 2012-07-16 16:51:26 Reply

I use FL Studio, and I always export my MP3's in 320kbps bitrate and everything sounds fine.
However, when I convert it (encode with Audacity) in 128kpbs, the sound quality drops badly.
Not that I, or anyone else for that matter, likes listening to music in 128kbps, but uploads on Soundcloud are automaticaly encoded that way, and therefore sound horribly.
I'm bringing this up because I have a release on Beatport and the track preview has the same issue, which makes the quality "unapropriate".
I tested loads of other songs by different artists, encoding them with Audacity, and they sound fine (obviously there is a difference in quality, but no sound artifacts), so I figured it's just me.
What I think is that it might be related to loudness, but I never "overkill" the volume on any track, and actually spend a lot of time mastering it.
I want to know what others think, could it be related to some FL Studio settings?
Here are my settings when exporting.
I tried fiddling with some of these options, but no difference.

Audio Quality Issues

DJDela
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Response to Audio Quality Issues 2012-07-16 16:53:44 Reply

What I forgot to mention is that I use Multiband Compressor and Maximus (which has a limiter built in) all of the time, so I'm thinking that they might be the source to this problem.

Trampzy
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Response to Audio Quality Issues 2012-07-16 17:01:07 Reply

I feel like there might be a few details missing... But a number of issues could be here. MP3 alone is already a lossy format, then converting the bitrate opposed to directly saving it to the proper one makes a really big difference, since you loose data each time you do something. I believe that's the case, if only the saved file sounds bad.

Trampzy
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Response to Audio Quality Issues 2012-07-16 17:17:09 Reply

Also, why are you uploading 128 kbps mp3's to beatport? Don't they do high quality AIFF? (I'm not exactly sure what sample rate and bitrate they take though)

DJDela
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Response to Audio Quality Issues 2012-07-16 17:59:24 Reply

At 7/16/12 05:17 PM, Trampzy wrote: Also, why are you uploading 128 kbps mp3's to beatport? Don't they do high quality AIFF? (I'm not exactly sure what sample rate and bitrate they take though)

The preview of the track on Beatport is in 128 kbps, so it's sounds really bad compared to the other songs for some reason.

I even tried uploading to Soundcloud in 32 bit WAV, but Soundcloud automatically re-encodes it to low quality 128 kbps MP3, so there are artifacts present which tells me there is a serious problem (I don't know if artifact is the correct word for it).

Also tried rendering it in FL Studio directly to 128 kbps, I just mentioned this re-encoding, because I know that it sounds worse when encoded in 128kbps.

LiquidOoze
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Response to Audio Quality Issues 2012-07-16 17:59:49 Reply

I'm pretty sure the labels that release their songs on Beatport want their songs in 44.1 kHz.

Do you put your songs on Beatport yourself (with your own label) or do you let another label do it? If another label does it, I ca't believe they'd accept such low-quality mp3's. Beatport offers downloads in wav. and .aiff files as well, which woulld mean that your 128 kbps mp3 would be converted again, making the quality even lower.


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DJDela
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Response to Audio Quality Issues 2012-07-16 18:04:50 Reply

At 7/16/12 05:59 PM, LiquidOoze wrote: I'm pretty sure the labels that release their songs on Beatport want their songs in 44.1 kHz.

Do you put your songs on Beatport yourself (with your own label) or do you let another label do it? If another label does it, I ca't believe they'd accept such low-quality mp3's. Beatport offers downloads in wav. and .aiff files as well, which woulld mean that your 128 kbps mp3 would be converted again, making the quality even lower.

No man, you got it wrong.
It's another label, but I gave them 16 bit WAV that they upload on beatport, and as you know the preview of the track is rendered in 128 kbps MP3.
The original WAV file sounds perfectly fine.

Trampzy
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Response to Audio Quality Issues 2012-07-16 18:22:46 Reply

At 7/16/12 06:04 PM, DJDela wrote: No man, you got it wrong.
It's another label, but I gave them 16 bit WAV that they upload on beatport, and as you know the preview of the track is rendered in 128 kbps MP3.
The original WAV file sounds perfectly fine.

I'm really confused on why you're bring mp3's into this. Beatport doesn't deal with mp3's at all. If you save it as a .wav and it sounds perfectly fine, then you should be all set. You're taking an unnecessary step in making your tracks low kbps mp3s. Also it's very well known that converting mp3's bitrate down makes it audibly "grosser sounding".

DJDela
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Response to Audio Quality Issues 2012-07-17 04:10:03 Reply

At 7/16/12 06:22 PM, Trampzy wrote:
At 7/16/12 06:04 PM, DJDela wrote: No man, you got it wrong.
It's another label, but I gave them 16 bit WAV that they upload on beatport, and as you know the preview of the track is rendered in 128 kbps MP3.
The original WAV file sounds perfectly fine.
I'm really confused on why you're bring mp3's into this. Beatport doesn't deal with mp3's at all. If you save it as a .wav and it sounds perfectly fine, then you should be all set. You're taking an unnecessary step in making your tracks low kbps mp3s. Also it's very well known that converting mp3's bitrate down makes it audibly "grosser sounding".

I'm not an expert in explaining things, but I told you that making tracks in low kbps was just a test, because Beatport and Soundcloud make all song previews in that bitrate.
That concerns me for the reason that people of course have to listen to the preview before buying something, and if the preview is bad quality, there is a high probability that they will step away.
I need to know why is this happening, as everyone else's music (even on Soundcloud) sounds fine.

gavkay21
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Response to Audio Quality Issues 2012-07-17 07:48:20 Reply

I dont know about other labels but i know i send beatport 16bit wavs. I kind though that was standard issue quality.

As for the other thing i export wav's if i know iam gonna re-render because mp3 is lossy and wav is lossless.

Mabey your ears are getting to picky after all the years of listening/producing music?

I know i can hear 128Kbps a mile off. How bad is the quality loss?

gavkay21
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Response to Audio Quality Issues 2012-07-17 07:51:24 Reply

At 7/16/12 05:59 PM, LiquidOoze wrote: other labels

I have heard some horror stories about labels releasing WIP's and previews by accident. Some dont care and just want to pump music out as quick as possible.

DJDela
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Response to Audio Quality Issues 2012-07-17 09:38:44 Reply

At 7/17/12 07:48 AM, gavkay21 wrote: I dont know about other labels but i know i send beatport 16bit wavs. I kind though that was standard issue quality.

As for the other thing i export wav's if i know iam gonna re-render because mp3 is lossy and wav is lossless.

Mabey your ears are getting to picky after all the years of listening/producing music?

I know i can hear 128Kbps a mile off. How bad is the quality loss?

Well, I'll just let you hear for yourself, instead of explaining (no self-promotion intended)

The preview (16 bit WAV, that is automatically encoded to 128kbps MP3) on Beatport

The 320 kbps I uploaded on YouTube

Should be identical, but do you notice any difference?

gavkay21
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Response to Audio Quality Issues 2012-07-17 10:17:50 Reply

At 7/17/12 09:38 AM, DJDela wrote:

:..... links and stuff

Yeah the youtube link is louder and just that bit more clearer. Mabey beatport are making it quieter too. Dont worry though when people download the song there wont be a issue hopefully.

kinda makes you wonder if beatport intentionally fuck with the volume levels so they can push certin songs more. You know the old "Its louder therefor its better" trick.

Dunno gonna find out for ya though

DJDela
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Response to Audio Quality Issues 2012-07-17 10:49:28 Reply

The volume is not at 100% by default, there is a volume controller on the top, just next to the player (like a drop down menu). But it really sounds bad even when not at full volume.

Buoy
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Response to Audio Quality Issues 2012-07-17 11:06:27 Reply

At 7/17/12 09:38 AM, DJDela wrote: The preview (16 bit WAV, that is automatically encoded to 128kbps MP3) on Beatport

It has the thin whistly characteristic of low quality mp3 files. Because it's a low quality mp3 file.

The 320 kbps I uploaded on YouTube

It has the thin whistly characteristic of low quality mp3 files, but less so than the one on Beatport. Because the quality is higher than the one on Beatport.

Should be identical,

No they shouldn't - one is a 128kbps mp3 file and the other is a 320kbps file (which is re-rendered to a lower quality by Youtube but still higher than 128kbps).

What's the problem here? That 128kbps mp3 files sound shitty? Well yeah that's what 128kbps mp3 files do. Nothing you can really do about that. High frequencies and fast transients are more noticeably different in low quality audio so songs with a lot of that might sound particularly shitty at low qualities.

DJDela
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Response to Audio Quality Issues 2012-07-17 11:31:21 Reply

At 7/17/12 11:06 AM, Buoy wrote: It has the thin whistly characteristic of low quality mp3 files. Because it's a low quality mp3 file.

OK, fair enough, but I've never found a song on beatport that had such a bad quality.
So I figure, I must be doing something wrong.

No they shouldn't - one is a 128kbps mp3 file and the other is a 320kbps file (which is re-rendered to a lower quality by Youtube but still higher than 128kbps).

Yes, I might have over-reacted, I didn't mean identical, but should sound similar.

Buoy
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Response to Audio Quality Issues 2012-07-17 17:32:03 Reply

At 7/17/12 11:31 AM, DJDela wrote:
At 7/17/12 11:06 AM, Buoy wrote: It has the thin whistly characteristic of low quality mp3 files. Because it's a low quality mp3 file.
OK, fair enough, but I've never found a song on beatport that had such a bad quality.
So I figure, I must be doing something wrong.

I can think of a few possibilities:
- it accumulates artifacts when you first render it as a 320kbps mp3 and then a 128kbps (so it sounds a bit worse than exporting the wav and then letting beatport render that)
- you might have a lot of high frequencies or more dynamic range than the average song, and therefore get hurt more by the lower quality
- cognitive bias: you know how a high quality version of your song sounds, so you know exactly how much worse the 128kbps version sounds, exactly what details are being washed out, etc. But you don't know how the high quality versions of other people's songs sound.

As for why a 128kbps mp3 exported from Audacity might sound better than the one Beatport made, well Audacity's mp3 encoder might just be better. I don't know how much difference there is between different encoders though

DJDela
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Response to Audio Quality Issues 2012-07-17 17:42:42 Reply

I think you may be right, the track might not really like the high frequencies.
Well, I guess there is no fixing this issue completely, but you have given me something to consider next time when I'm mastering a track.
It is probably just my hearing, and not FL Studio's fault.
So thank you and everyone else who replied here.

HyperTrough
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Response to Audio Quality Issues 2012-07-18 12:24:12 Reply

At 7/16/12 04:53 PM, DJDela wrote: What I forgot to mention is that I use Multiband Compressor and Maximus (which has a limiter built in) all of the time, so I'm thinking that they might be the source to this problem.

I've been trying to crack this problem too. Soundcloud rubbish for streaming music. I switched to NOT enabling "Dithering" and keeping the "Post" level on the master tab of Maximus to 0 (even -1 db).

To be honest, I have no idea how any of this stuff works, but just give these things a try if you haven't already.


lol fuk u